PASSIONATELY, the opposition in the person of Mr Tundu Lissu, told Tanzanians on Wednesday this week that the president they elected in October 2010 to lead the country for a second term was untrustworthy, that he does not keep his word, that he breaks the law at will, that, well, in short Mr Lissu was saying the president was unworthy of the presidency.
Lissu's assertion was that the President could not be entrusted with appointing the 160 plus members of the Constituent Assembly from among the names to be presented to him from specified institutions as the Constitutional Review (Amendment) Act directs because, according to Lissu, he did follow a similar procedure when appointing members of the Constitution Review Commission.
Lissu was presenting the opposition's official position on the Constitutional Review (Amendment) Bill tabled by the Minister for Constitution and Legal Affairs, Mr Mathias Chikawe earlier this week. The essence of opposition's presentation was to try to convince the august House to reject or postpone the discussion on the Bill alleging that the people of Zanzibar had not been involved in the drafting of the Bill.
And that was the bone of contention which spawned a protracted and nasty debate in the House, which further widened the gap between the opposition and the rest of the House unnecessarily. Actually it was Ali Khamis Seif, Member of Parliament for Mkoani (CUF) who called for the suspension of the proceedings and supported by other oppositions MPs.
The Deputy Speaker, Mr Job Ndugai was forced to call for a vote and the proposal was defeated by 156 votes versus 59 supporting votes from CHADEMA, CUF and NCCR-Mageuzi. But when the Deputy Speaker, who had exercised a high degree of restraint called for the debate to proceed and recognised Mr Augustine Lyatonga Mrema to the floor, the leader of official opposition, Mr Freeman Mbowe stood up in protest.
The Deputy Speaker ordered Mr Mbowe was adamant and refused to sit down. The Deputy Speaker then ordered Mr Mbowe out of the House but the rest of the members from the opposition camp also stood up in defiance, in support of their leader in the House.
The Sergeant at Arms was summoned to remove Mr Mbowe forcibly. Again his supporters surrounded him, apparently to prevent Mr Mbowe from being escorted out by the Sergeant at Arms and other security officers in the House.
That was when hell broke loose, as they say, degenerating the august House into a madhouse. For the first time in the history of the national assembly Tanzanians witnessed how lowly some of so called honourable members can become.
There can be no justification for disgraceful altercation in the House. For starters, was it necessary for the opposition to call for the suspension of the proceedings because the people of Zanzibar were allegedly not consulted, which contention was not correct as per explanations given by Minister Chikawe, Chairperson of the Parliamentary Standing Committee for Constitutional, Legal Affairs and Governance Pindi Chana and the Attorney General Frederick Werema?
Maybe the opposition has another agenda against the Bill. But again, why did Honourable Freeman Mbowe, who is the national Chairman of the Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (CHADEMA) and leader of the Official Opposition in Parliament, a seasoned Member of Parliament (MP) who should clearly be conversant with the rules and regulations governing Parliamentary procedure, deliberately disrespect the Speaker's Chair by refusing to obey the Speaker's orders?
How would spouses, children and relatives of the honourable Members of Parliament from the Opposition camp who were actively involved in the physical confrontation with the security officers live with the shame?
Only uncivilized people engage in physical punch up when dialogue can adequately resolve whatever dispute there might be. Let our honourable representatives promise not to shame our august House again.